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Marriage by Proxy

After the Mad War had ended, Brittany was required to make concessions to the King of France. One of those concessions was that the Duke's daughters would not marry without permission of the King. Shortly thereafter the Duke dies leaving his daughter, Anne, as Duchess. Brittany is still in reasonable shape even after losing the Mad War so Anne is looking for ways to reinforce her Duchy. She realizes she will never be able to marry legally in Brittany so she gets married by proxy to Maximilian the 1st of Austria who is currently the Holy Roman Emperor. (This also means no marriage night but they'll make up for that in the years to come.) This marriage makes Anne the Empress of the Roman Empire. Although she is trying to build up her duchy, France considers her marriage a breech of the agreement her father made to end the Mad War. Keep in mind that the King of France is still a child so she is really fighting with the other nobles. She will eventually marry the King of France in 1492. He will be almost ten years old by that time. She will take two beds with her. [1] [2]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Marriage by proxy is the idea that one can get married without one or both of a couple being physically together at the ceremony. In Texas the proxy marriage law was recently limited to disallow proxy marriages to people in prison. It does allow proxy marriage if one member of the couple is enlisted in the military and stationed outside of the USA. Proxy marriages are allowed only in a few states of the United States and they seem to be limited to the military as one member of the couple and the other must be present in the state in which it is allowed. The Supreme Court did rule that prisoners are allowed to marry but the state has the right to decide if marriages can take place within their prisons.[3] [4] [5]

Rooster or Hen? The Pope's Special Chair

Back in the 9th century an error was made when electing the Pope. It was discovered that the "man" they had elected as Pope was a woman. Pope Joan is a legend and somewhat of an embarrassment to the Church so how can one know if Pope Joan is real or not? Note that in the late 1400s when the Pope is elected, he must be seated in a chair with a hole in the seat and then lay back. It is then the duty of the youngest cardinal to reach up under the seat and... well... make sure the Pope is a man. The cardinal then shouts, "He has testicles!" A book outlining these traditions is published sometime between now and 1493. It seems incredible but this procedure is corroborated by other accounts. The seat still exists in the modern day in a corner of the Vatican Museum. It is unlabelled and if you ask what it was for, you will be told that the Popes once sat there in a laid back position as if giving birth, thus representing Mother Church. Your mileage may vary. [6] [7]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The grabbing of the testicles as a ritual is an ancient practice when making a binding oath. The practice is mentioned in the Bible when Abraham makes a pact with his servant to find a wife for his son, Issac. The Bible uses the euphemistic phrase, "put thy hand under my thigh," but it amounts to the same thing. In the modern day, we make a joke out this practice by saying that a fellow keeps his testicles in his wife's purse. While it is somewhat insulting, it suggests that he has entrusted critical decisions to his wife rather than making those decisions for himself. If you are Italian you have a full range of gestures available to you... not all of them insulting and many of them obviously references to the testicles.[8] [9]

The Human Machine: Vitruvian Man

Every time they talk about man as a machine they show this picture drawn by Leonardo Da Vinci called "Vitruvian Man" (also called "Proportions of Man"). It shows a naked man with his arms and legs extended with a circle and square surrounding him. He has several pairs of legs and arms ghosting his real limbs as if he is making snow angels. It's a classic icon and the moment you see it, you'll recognize it. Leonardo created this drawing to illustrate the proper proportions an artist must use when illustrating people. He also seemed to praise the natural proportions, noting that to "measure the distance from the soles of the feet to the top of the head, and then apply that measure to the outstretched arms, the breadth will be found to be the same as the height, as in the case of plane surfaces which are perfectly square." [10]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The first time I saw Vitruvian Man was in grade school. I don't recall the exact circumstances but it had to do with the beauty and proportions found in nature, art and architecture. Although I don't have that much to say about this drawing, it is seen so often in the modern day that I would feel guilty not mentioning it.

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1490, Wikipedia.

See Also


* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. Anne of Brittany: Duchess - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 21 December 2014.
  2. Charles VIII of France - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 21 December 2014.
  3. Proxy marriage - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 21 December 2014.
  4. Proxy Marriage Restrictions End Inmate Weddings - The Texas Tribune. texastribune.org (August 6, 2013). Retrieved on 21 December 2014. “House Bill 869, which takes effect Sept. 1, (2013) will no longer allow those seeking proxy marriages - weddings where either the bride or groom or both are not physically present - to appoint another person to stand in during the ceremony, unless they are serving in the military and stationed outside of the country.”
  5. What Is Marriage by Proxy in Texas? - eHow. ehow.com (2014). Retrieved on 21 December 2014. “Texas requires that one of the two parties entering the marriage be present to apply for a marriage license. Double proxy marriage (in which neither party is present) is not allowed in Texas. The paperwork of the absent party will attest that he or she desires to be married to the present party and that the two parties are eligible to be married under Texas law and not in violation of any Texas laws pertaining to marriage.”
  6. (2011) "Chapter 6 Pope Joan", Absolute Monarchs: A History of the Papacy (BOOK), New York: Random House. “...up to the present day the seat is still in the same place and is used at the election of the pope. And in order to demonstrate his worthiness, his testicles are felt by the junior cleric present as testimony of his male sex. When this is found to be so, the person who feels them shouts out in a loud voice, "He has testicles!"” 
  7. Felix Hemmerlin. Felicis malleoli, vulgo hemmerlein, Decretorum doctoris iureconsultissimi, De Nobilitate et Rusticitate Dialogus. Johann Prüss. 
  8. Tanakh. Jewish Publication Society of America. ISBN 9780827603653. “Genesis 24:2-3 And Abraham said unto his servant, the elder of his house, that ruled over all that he had: 'Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh. And I will make thee swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife for my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell.” 
  9. Staff member at Skyscanner (2014). Rude Italian Hand Gestures: explained by Skyscanner. youtube.com. Retrieved on 21 December 2014.
  10. Vitruvian Man - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 12 December 2014.

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